And then there was the time I found myself downtown at rush hour with my nylons around my ankles.

My latest blog posts have been a bit on the serious side, so I decided that today’s would be simple and light – another in my endless series of embarrassing moments now set forth for all eternity.

I’ve had a number of clothing-related mortifications in my life. I once walked out the door and all the way to the bus stop before realizing that I was wearing only a slip. The uncommon chill is what finally tipped me off.

But a couple of other incidents stand out.

Early in my career in San Francisco, I would periodically wear dresses to work. I had landed a job as an “editorial assistant” at Harper & Row Publishers right out of college, and while most English majors would have swooned at that opportunity, I worked in the production side of things, which meant that I really functioned as an accountant. I dealt with lots of invoices and spreadsheets (all by hand, of course) as I developed a growing familiarity with the intricacies of offsheet presses and bookbinding.

Anyway, one evening I was walking down Sutter Street after a long day at work when quite suddenly both of my nylons rolled down around my ankles. I was wearing thigh-high hose at the time – individual nylons with a tight band at mid-thigh level that miraculously gripped one’s leg. They were supposed to stay there. I don’t know why I preferred them over your standard-issue panty hose, but that was my scene at the time. (By the way, I just Googled them and discovered that they still exist today, so perhaps I was not as far afield fashion-wise as you might be thinking.)

I have no idea why both nylons decided to defy all odds and slide to earth at the same time. In fact, I don’t understand why they slipped down at all. My best guess is that they were getting on in years and perhaps I’d stretched them out when I was heavier – when I had put on the “freshman 15” living in the dorms at SF State, scarfing down as many carbohydrates as I could stuff into my gaping maw. Well, that and the sodas.

Speaking of sodas, I must digress for a moment, because one day I was in line at the college cafeteria with my friend Kati. I had poured myself a Coca-Cola and she had gotten a Pepsi, both in gigantic paper cups, but I’m sure we were distracted by a million things and by the time we paid our “scrip” for them we couldn’t remember which was which. “Don’t worry; I can tell just by smelling them,” she assured me. So she proceeded to stick her nose down into one of the cups and draw in a huge, dramatic sniff. Well, in front of a long line of students, the soda shot way up her nostril, so far that it then streamed out the other nostril and back onto the counter. We both guffawed so hard that she practically choked to death. It caused quite a delay at the counter.

“Well, I can say with clarity that that was definitely not the Pepsi,” she deadpanned.

And that, my friends, was the only time I’ve been around someone snorting Coke.

Anyway, back to the nylons. So now I’m in a torrent of people heading home, my stockings are bunched loosely around my ankles, and I’m overcome with embarrassment. What the heck am I going to do?  Undress right in the middle of Sutter Street?

So, I decided to ever-so-gradually back into a doorway so that I would go undiscovered by at least the majority of the people on the street. I eased myself slowly backwards until I could lean up against the solid wall behind me, at which point I took off my heels, rolled each piece of hosiery all the way down and off, stuffed the nylons in my backpack, and slipped my shoes back on. It took quite a bit of time because I was very deliberate and protracted in my actions so as not to draw attention.

Then I turned around to look at the building.


The “wall” that I had backed into was really a window. A huge plate-glass window. And inside the lobby of that building was a large crowd of people, all of them staring. They had had quite a show. A long show at that. They could have consumed an entire tub of popcorn watching me undress!


I suppose the most mortifying of all my clothing situations, though, occurred the day I went to the water-slide park with my sister Janine, my former brother-in-law John, and their children. This time I planned carefully in advance and donned a one-piece bathing suit to avoid any mishaps.

I had a fantastic time that day. It was an hour of pure joy and laughing and screaming.

On my last trip down the largest slide, a 10-year-old boy had somehow gotten stuck partway down and along I came, barreling towards him. I flailed around and tried to stop myself, but to no avail, so I careened into him and ended up taking him down with me, the both of us shrieking and hopelessly entangled.

Now, at the bottom of the slide was a shallow pool. Just beyond that was a large, grassy hillside, on which all of the parents sat to watch their kids as they splash-landed after a wild ride.

I stood up out of the pool, cackling and grinning from the delight of not only the fast ride but also the craziness of being intertwined with the startled little boy.

John and the kids met me at the edge of the pool, and I began breathlessly recounting the details of the slide.

As I stood there jabbering, facing not only my family but the hordes of parents on the grass, I noticed that John was staring perplexedly at me. And not at my face.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, still catching my breath.

He just pointed.

Somehow in all the chaos my bathing suit had slipped down on one side, and my entire lily-white left breast was out and pointing like a beacon at not only him but also the large crowd on the hill.

“For God’s sake, John, why didn’t you say anything?” I blurted at him while stuffing everything back into place. “A hundred people are staring at me!”

Hand to God, this was his response:

“I wasn’t sure what it was.”


For SF Giants fans, my latest Giants blog posts (most of which are dullsville) are at http://sportsspotlight.com/blog/author/paulabocciardi/